Why Has There Been An Increase In Food Allergies
There has been a significant increase in the prevalence of food allergy over the past three decades. This has also been the case with peanut allergy, which now affects approximately 0.6% of the U.S. population.1 A diagnosis of food allergy carries with it important nutritional implications, an undeniable impact on quality of life, and increased health care costs.2-4 As researchers look to improve the management of food allergy beyond avoidance and treatment of accidental ingestions with epinephrine, there is also focus on understanding the increase in food allergy over the past several decades.
The rise in food allergy mirrors the increase in other allergic conditions, namely atopic dermatitis , asthma, and allergic rhinitis . The increase in these conditions undoubtedly stems from a complicated interplay between a persons genetic makeup and their interaction with the environment . The risk of having a food allergy significantly increases if a first degree relative has a food allergy. Beyond genetics, numerous environmental influences may also play a role.
Both genetic and environmental influences play a key role in the development of allergic conditions, including food allergy. Although recent studies have taught us a lot about how to potentially decrease the prevalence of food allergy, there remains much work to be done to prevent this growing public health concern.
1. Sicherer SH, Epidemiology of food allergy. JACI 2011 127: 594.
What Adult Reactions Look Like
When it comes to types of food allergies, Guptaâs study finds shellfish is the top food allergen in adults, affecting 7.2 million of them.
âShellfish allergy commonly begins in adulthood, is rarely outgrown, and therefore impacts the lifespan,” she explains.
Jodi Duke has experienced that. She got an allergy to shellfish in her 30s after having her second child. Until then, she ate crab often and loved it. But during her last visit to a crab house, she took a bite and suddenly realized something had changed.
âI began to feel hot and dizzy. The next thing I remember was waking up on the floor. I had passed out and ended up in an ambulance headed to the emergency room. After several tests, the doctors explained that everything looked good on the tests and I should consult an allergy specialist,â Duke explains. âWhen I did, I found out I had developed a shellfish allergy and am now unable to eat any type of shellfish. I am lucky that my allergy is the type that I have to actually eat the shellfish to have a reaction, but I do still have to be careful.â
Guptaâs study found rates of all allergies, no matter when they started, were high in adults for a variety of other foods too, including:
- Tree nut
- Fin fish
- Sesame .
âUnderstanding potential triggers for new allergies is essential as we are seeing more adult-onset food allergy, and significantly more in women than men. We need to examine the why,â Gupta says.
Allergies Are On The Rise And Here Are Three Reasons Why
Outrage over soaring prices for EpiPen, a life-saving allergy treatment, has drawn renewed attention to the number of children suffering from allergies.
As more children grapple with these ailments, the reasons behind the spike are still being debated. Lots of money is at stake: The diagnosis and treatment of allergies is a nearly $26 billion market, according to data from Grandview Research.
Research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that food allergies in children have increased approximately 50 percent between 1997 and 2011, now affecting 1 in 13 children in the United States. This translates to roughly two students in every classroom.
About 90 percent of allergic reactions come from these eight foods alone: Milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. In total, food allergies cause about 300,000 ambulatory-care visits a year, just among children under age 18.
With those numbers on the rise, a few theories are being explored, including one linked to Western society’s obsession with fighting germs. The so-called hygiene hypothesis posits that a lack of exposure to infectious agents early in childhood can create a scenario where the immune system mistakes a food protein as an invading germ.
“We are being too clean,” Dr. Leigh Vinocur of the American College of Emergency Physicians told CNBC recently. “We’re essentially creating allergies for ourselves.”
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How You Can Treat Allergies
So weve established that an imbalance in diet and lifestyle causes allergies. So, if you want to treat allergies, then its a good idea to look at improving your diet, activity, and lifestyle practices. There are some foods that are better than others. If you can eat a variety whole grains, sweet tasting and leafy vegetables, then youll be on the right track. Sea vegetables can also help, and they can also be really tasty! Its a good idea to avoid dairy, meats, fried foods, and strong sweets.
Fact #: Most Foods Cannot Cause An Airborne Reaction
A significant allergic reaction can only happen when the food is ingested. Walking in a room where theres an open jar of peanut butter and smelling the food wont cause someone with a peanut allergy to have an allergic reaction.
Many schools have peanut-free or allergen-free lunch tables but isolating kids from friends is not the answer. School-aged children can safely navigate the world by not sharing food and washing hands properly.
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What Causes An Allergy
An allergy is caused by the immune system fighting substances in the environment that it should see as harmless, known as allergens.
These innocent substances become targets, leading to allergic reactions.
Symptoms range from skin redness, hives and swelling to – in the most severe cases – vomiting, diarrhoea, difficulty breathing and anaphylactic shock.
Some of the most common foods for children to be allergic to are:
- tree nuts
What Issues Do Allergies Cause
The allergies that a person has is just step one of the process. Its the effect that the allergy has on the body thats the issue. Allergies are caused by a chronic imbalance in our blood, which can lead to more serious problems overtime. And when that happens, the immune system has to work overtime to filter and rebalance the blood. Since the allergies have caused the immune system to become overloaded, the result is a whole host of unwanted side effects, including a running nose, sinus infections, migraines, and general weakness.
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Facts About Food Allergies
- Its estimated that every three minutes food reaction sends someone to the emergency room.
- In a year, 200,000 U.S. people require emergency medical attention as a result of an allergic reaction.
- The number of medical procedure to treat anaphylaxis due to food allergy has increased by 380 percent between 2007 and 2016.
- Over 40 percent of children with food allergies have experienced severe reaction such as anaphylaxis.
Adult Food Allergies: Severe Reactions Up More Than 300 Percent In Last Decade
I never felt anything like this before. I had no problems in the past I ate shellfish I love shellfish. I ate sushi all the time, shrimp, crab, lobster, all that. Never had any problems with anything, she said.
But two minutes later, Sebes found herself vomiting uncontrollably. She broke out into hives and a rash that started on her torso quickly spread until she was covered with raised bumps from head to toe. By the time Sebes reached the hospital, she could hardly breathe.
I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t swallow, my itching was getting much worse, and my tongue was swelling more, Sebes said.
It was terrifying.
I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t swallow, my itching was getting much worse, and my tongue was swelling more.
Sebes was eventually injected with an EpiPen and experienced a full recovery. But these near-fatal food reactions are all too common and on the rise, especially in adults who had never previously experienced allergic food reactions before.
We have noticed that the prevalence of food allergy has tripled in the last 20 to 30 years, said Dr. Jonathan Hemler, pediatric allergy and immunology specialist at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
Doctors are putting a renewed emphasis on the importance of eating a varied diet with lots of fruits and vegetables in hopes that these rates will decrease in the future.
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More Care For More Allergies
At Center for Allergy and Asthma of Georgia, we recognize that a world of increased allergies requires a world of increased care. Thats why our board certified medical professionals provide testing and treatment for everything from food allergies to insect bites. Dont go through life afraid of allergies, take steps to fight them, with Center for Allergy and Asthma of Georgie.
Our Georgie allergists are available by phone at 994-3574, or you can contact us online. Same day appointments and Spanish-speaking services are available.
Food Allergies: Are More Kids Allergic To Food Or Are We Just More Aware
From peanut-free school lunches to gluten-free birthday parties. If it seems like more and more kids have food allergies these days youre not alone in that thought. Most likely youve even had discussions with other parents about how food allergies werent an issue when you were growing up, and that everyone ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches back in our day.
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Has There Been A Rise In Food Allergies
It seems like we hear about a new food allergy or food intolerance every day. Nut allergies and other serious allergic conditions were once rare and infrequently diagnosed.
Now they seem prevalent in school lunchrooms everywhere. Are food allergies on the rise?
To answer this question simply: yes.
The Center for Disease control estimates about a 50% increase in the rate of food allergies diagnosed in children under age 18.
Why are food allergies increasing? Unfortunately, there is no definite answer to this question. There are several popular theories for the increase in food allergies.
Hygiene HypothesisThe first theory, often called the hygiene hypothesis argues that the western lifestyle has become so hygienic that children arent given the opportunity to develop their immune system anymore. We develop our immune system when were exposed to germs and infections in our early infancy. If the immune system is weak, the system of the body that attacks allergens may overcompensate and react to harmless foods like peanuts or dairy giving children severe allergies.
Better DetectionThe simplest explanation for the recent jump in allergy diagnosis is that were getting better at detecting allergies. As the quality and availability of healthcare increases, fewer allergies are going undiagnosed. Alternatively, there is a theory that many food allergies are the misdiagnosis of other medical conditions.
Fact #: All Food Allergic Children Should Carry Epinephrine
Antihistamines can be used to relieve mild allergy symptoms, such as a skin rash or a one-time episode of GI symptoms. However, if a child is having anaphylaxis or difficulty breathing the child needs an injection of epinephrine.
A delay in treatment can be life-threatening, so its important children with food allergies have an emergency plan, have an epinephrine injector on hand and know how to use it. It is important to have 2 injectors with the child and not split a 2 pack up, as some children will need the second dose. After using epinephrine or if youre with a child and they dont have an injector call 9-1-1 immediately.
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Is Improved Hygiene To Blame
The hygiene hypothesis suggests early childhood exposure to bacteria protects against the development of allergies. It proposes that in modern society there is a reduced opportunity for cross-infection in households, as a result of reduced household size, improvements in household amenities, and higher standards of personal hygiene. Many scientists criticise this hypothesis, however, and experts agree good hygiene is important for guarding against disease.
A more recent version of the theory, the old friends hypothesis, proposes the issue is not the cleanliness of your home, but whether your gut is encountering different types of microorganisms. Graham Rook, who developed the theory, suggests because we have a long evolutionary association with particular microorganisms, they are recognised by the immune system as harmless. But our gut microbiota are slowly changing due to our modern lifestyle, so we have fewer of the old friend microbes that helped our immune system respond to foreign substances. There is evidence that taking antibiotics in childhood may increase your risk of food allergy, as they kill friendly gut bacteria as well as bad bacteria. The microbiome in the gut will likely influence our ability to tolerate food or develop food allergy, says Santos, particularly in early life.
Theories Which May Explain The Rise In Food Allergies
Did you know that 6 million children have food allergies in the US?
1 in 13 children are affected. Given the standard classroom size, that is two children per class!
These statistics are alarming but very accurate!
So how did we get here?
The truth is, we dont have one answer to explain this. The answer is likely multifactorial. We think that our rapid lifestyle change has contributed to this rise in food allergies over the past few decades.
Being a native of West Africa, my mother grew up in a country where roasted peanut protein is everywhere in the culture and is integrated very early on into the infant diet. So whenever my mother reads such statistics, she almost always mutters, We never had food allergies when we were growing up. She is exceedingly perplexed when she thinks about the fact that she has two grandchildren with severe food allergies.
As a food allergy parent, you may be interested in knowing where food allergies come from.For me personally, I wanted to know if there was something I could have done to prevent food allergies in my children. Could I have eaten different foods? Should I have avoided specific foods during pregnancy, and the list goes on and on..
Could I have done something to prevent this?
What are the current theories around the Food Allergy Epidemic?
1. Hygiene Hypothesis: We Live Clean.
2. Genetics: What role do genes play?
3. Vitamin D Theory: The Sunshine Vitamin.
4. Previous Food Allergy Recommendations
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Common Food That Causes Allergies
According to reports, more than 170 foods cause allergic reactions. The major food allergens being, eggs, milk, peanuts, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, and crustacean shellfish. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the prevalence of allergies to the above food in children has increased by 50 percent.
This Is Why Food Allergies Are On The Rise According To Experts
Twenty years ago, when invited to a social gathering, it seems like you could slap together any gluten-packed, dairy-dusted casserole and call it good. These days, however, it can feel like the luck in your neighborhood potluck refers to your chances of accidentally baking up a disaster for a food allergy sufferer. You may have even experienced it yourself: Something you used to eat with blissful abandon now troubles your tummy or causes you to break out in hives.
Statistics back up the fact that food allergies are on the rise. Between 1997 and 2011, allergic reactions to food rose 50 percent in children. The most notable increase was in peanut allergies from 1997 to 2008, this particular doozy tripled in American kids. And, troublingly, the recent increase doesnt equate with family history. Anyone can develop a food allergy, even without a family history, says Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE, FAAP, a pediatrician at Seattle Childrens Hospital and chief medical officer of Before Brands, whose products are devoted to transforming the worlds relationship with food allergies. In fact, two out of every three children who develop a food allergy do not have a parent with one, she notes.
Do you suffer from a food allergy? Tweet us your tips .
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Why Are Food Allergies On The Rise
Victoria Campisi | May 12, 2020
Researchers estimate that 32 million Americans have food allergies, including 5.6 million children, according to Food Allergy Research and Education.
This translates to one in 13 children. About 40% of children with food allergies are also allergic to more than one food.
The prevalence of food allergy in children increased by 50% between 1997 and 2011, according to the CDC. Specifically, between 1998 and 2008, the prevalence of peanut or tree nut allergy appears to have more than tripled in U.S. children.
While most food allergies arise in childhood, at least 15% of patients with food allergies are first diagnosed in adulthood. More than one in four adults with food allergies indicate all their food allergies developed during adulthood, and nearly half of adults with food allergy report having developed at least one food allergy during adulthood.
The forces behind the rising number of statistics is yet to be identified, reported Leapsmag. However, the leading suspects are elements of our modern lifestyle that are known to throw the immune system out of whack.
Weaker Immune Systems
In the late 1980s, British epidemiologist David P. Strachan, MD, found that children in larger households had fewer instances of hay fever, or allergy caused by pollen. He suggested the reason could be their immune systems were strengthened by exposure to their siblings germs.
Vitamin D Deficiency
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